Nature Hills offers plants two ways, container grown plants and dormant bare root plants.  Let’s take a look at tips and tricks to ensure success.

Establishing Bare Root Plants

Bare root plants are shipped dormant and without any leaves and no soil on the roots! They are dug in fall after they have been exposed to frost and the plants have started to go dormant. Garden experts shake off all of the soil from the rootsBare root plants remain dormant until they are shipped to you.

How? They are stored in a cooler with no soil on the roots (at a controlled very high humidity) just above freezing. So bare root plants can be shipped from November through the winter (in milder climates) all the way into June.  All bare root plants will be carefully wrapped to keep the roots covered and moist at all times during shipment.

Soaking your bare root plants in a tub of water overnight before planting really improves success to near perfect.  

Fall Planting of Bare Root Plants

Establishing a bare root plant in the fall is simple.  Soak, plant, water to settle the soil in around those roots, and keep an eye on soil moisture.  Remember that fall planted plants will not grow until the following spring, but the big secret is those fall planted bare root plants will produce new roots in the fall before winter comes. 

Initial watering at fall planting, then a good soaking the next day, and then using the finger test to feel if the soil needs additional moisture at the roots is the BEST WAY to know if the roots are kept moist. 

Plants that dry out after transplanting will actually cause some of the smallest roots to die which reduces the chances for the plants to take up the water needed to support the top of the plant.  Keeping even moisture at the roots is the key to a successful transplant.

Don’t Overwater Plants – Use the Finger Test

If you just add water every day to your plants, it could cause those roots to rot which can kill the plant too.  Even soil moisture is best achieved by what we call the finger test – stick your finger up to the 2nd knuckle into the soil and feel.  If it feels moist – skip water that day and if it feels dry then give a good drink. 

Fall and winter bare root transplanted plants will need much less water than spring and early summer bare root plantings.

Establishing Container Grown Plants

Plants that have been grown in pots can be shipped to you dormant or actively growing, depending upon the time of the year they are shipped and the region they are grown in.  Container grown plants can be shipped anytime as long as we are shipping to your area. 

Container grown plants are easily slid from the pots they were grown in and can be carefully planted in the ground.  Dig the hole no deeper than the pot it was growing in – but twice as wide or even more.  Loosening the soil wider than the size of the pot allows the new roots to easily develop as they spread and re-establish the plant in its new home. 

Getting your newly planted container plants established as quickly as possible is to your advantage: 

  • Upon arrival at any time of the year – completely submerge your plant into a tub of water until it stops bubbling. 
  • Then take the plant out and allow to drain while you plant.  Gently loosen the soil on the bottom of the root ball to separate circling roots. 
  • As you backfill around the root ball with the soil that was excavated from the hole be sure to again completely saturate your plants right away. 
  • Then, use the finger test to know if your plant needs watering or not. 
  • Know that your container plants will need much more water (attention to frequency) when the temperatures are warm and sunny in spring and summer compared to fall shipments. 

Soil type, temperature, and time of the year all makes a big difference as to how much water a plant will take up.  But it is not just about how much water the plant will take up – it is about keeping the roots of your newly planted plants just moist without over watering or mistakenly letting the plant dry out too much – so that your plants can start making new roots. 

Roots eventually will grow to find food and water on their own.  Once they start to do so, your plants become less dependent upon you for additional water when needed.  It can happen in a little as a week or sometimes as much as a month or more.

New roots are most easily initiated with you being highly attentive to the soil moisture at the roots of your newly planted plants.  That does not mean you just water it every day or once a week.  It means you use the finger test to feel the soil daily at the start, so YOU KNOW WHEN your plans are needing additional water.  As new roots form you will notice the plants will need you less frequently and that is the key. 

Happy planting!